Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Sunday, 16 October 2022:
2 Samuel 20:9, 10 — And say to Amasa, “Are you not my bone and my flesh? God do so to me and more also, if you are not commander of my army from now on in place of Joab….” (2 Samuel 19:13) And Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. But Amasa did not observe the sword that was in Joab’s hand. So Joab struck him with it in the stomach and spilled his entrails to the ground without striking a second blow, and he died. (2 Samuel 20:9, 10)
Competence vs character — Joab was an incredibly competent warrior (perhaps the very best) with serious character flaws that proved devastating to the king. David relied on Joab due to his competence and loyalty (on Joab’s terms), but David should have removed him early on due to his lack of character which made him ultimately untrustworthy and dangerous. Perhaps David was a bit fearful of attempting to challenge Joab’s power and considered his relationship with him a necessary evil. Nonetheless, the longer David stayed with Joab, the more dependent he become on him and the more entangled he became with the consequences of Joab’s behavior. As we saw in the story of Bathsheba and Uriah, David had completely abrogated his military commandership over to Joab, likely because, in part, Joab was very forceful, competent, and uncooperative in execution. David likely felt it best to avoid conflict with Joab and to let Joab run the army. In so doing, David surrendered one of his most important roles as king, strengthened Joab’s hand, and contributed to Joab’s demand for power. Today, David seeks to reconcile with Amasa by giving Amasa Joab’s position as Commander of the Army, and Joab responds by murdering Amasa. One can only speculate about what David was thinking here, but Joab’s actions should come as no surprise. Joab demonstrated this sort of violent expediency against David’s wishes previously (E.G., Abner: 2 Samuel 3:27, and Absalom: 2 Samuel 18:14). David handled Joab poorly and it cost him dearly.
We all have a tendency to admire competency and overlook character flaws in others – big mistake. Between character and competence, character must be supreme. A leader or employee MUST be good at what they do, but it is MUCH, MUCH more important that a leader or employee be a good person who can be trusted to do the right things in the right way at the right time for the right reasons, especially when no one is watching. From BOTH character and competence, trust and confidence are earned. In many places, the Bible warns us not to enter into, whenever possible, relationships of dependency with ungodly people who lack character. Of course, our personal ambition is to increasingly mature into Christlike character, which can always be trusted by others.
2 Samuel 20:10 – But Amasa did not observe the sword that was in Joab’s hand.
You may not recognize your enemies when you meet them. However, God knows the hearts of everyone around you. How important is it for you to be guided by the Holy Spirit in relationships? “…your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.” (Isaiah 58:8)
2 Samuel 20:13-15 — Some tasks require a powerful, experienced leader. God may call you to be that leader even if you don’t necessarily feel like you are very powerful and experienced.
Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm in the Bible and uses each letter of the Hebrew alphabet to teach a spiritual lesson. Psalm 119 is a great Psalm to review regularly. Read the whole thing and see if it does not inspire you to diligently study and live by God’s Word.
Psalm 119:5 – Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!
Is this your earnest desire?
Psalm 119:9-16 – How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. Blessed are you, O Lord; teach me your statutes! With my lips I declare all the rules of your mouth. In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches. I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways. I will delight in your statutes; I will not forget your word.
A wholehearted seeking of the Lord requires fully committed Bible study, memorization, communication, and application. The fact that following God’s word and Word (Jesus) is the key to life success and fulfillment:
- Joshua 1:8 — This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.
- Ezra 7:10 — For Ezra had set his heart to study the Law of the LORD, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel.
- Ecclesiastes 12:11-14 — The words of the wise are like goads, and like nails firmly fixed are the collected sayings; they are given by one Shepherd. My son, beware of anything beyond these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil.
Psalm 119:18 – Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.
Anyone, through intellectual knowledge, can know what is in the Bible, but it requires the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit to truly understand what it means, and it takes the power of the Holy Spirit to live it. Godliness is much more than an intellectual pursuit; it is a spiritual endeavor completed by Christ. Some of the most influential atheists in the world can quote the Bible better than many Christians (tragically); in fact, Satan tried in futility to tempt Jesus with Bible quotes. Many secular teachers and gurus extol the moral virtues of some Biblical principles. However, true spiritual discernment is available only to those saved by grace through faith in Jesus and empowered by the Holy Spirit. Finally, the evidence or proof that you truly understand God’s word is oneness with Christ, love, joy, peace, contentment, gratitude, faith, hope, love, and Christlike character.
- John 3:3 — Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
- Luke 24:45 — Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.
- 1 Corinthians 2:10-11, 14 — These things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God…. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
- 2 John 1:9 — Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
- 1 John 3:24 — Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
- 1 John 2:6 — …whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
Of course, for the Holy Spirit to enlighten us with God’s word, we must study God’s word. We quench the Spirit when we neglect God’s word.
- 2 Timothy 3:15 — And how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.
- John 17:17 — Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth.
- Matthew 4:4 — But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
- Colossians 3:16 — Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.
- 2 Timothy 2:15 — Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
“Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.” (Psalm 119:97) Do you have a passion for God’s word, and do you meditate upon it all day long? Do you find it hard to put down the Bible?
Psalm 119:20 – My soul is consumed with longing for your rules at all times.
Is this your consuming longing today? You might say, “I don’t want rules; I want Jesus.” Good, but understand that the rules of God are the application of His desires and intent, a reflection of what is on His heart; they are His perfect will. Jesus, the Word, is the embodiment of the God’s word and did not come to abolish the word but fulfill it, to truly live it out in love rather than mere duty or obligation. Shouldn’t you care most about what Jesus cares most about if you are desiring to be His real friend and to walk with Him? Or, do you want a relationship with Him only on your terms?
Psalm 119:30 – I have chosen the way of faithfulness; I set your rules before me.
Love and faithfulness go hand-in-hand. Have you chosen the way of love and faithfulness?
Psalm 119:36 – Incline my heart to your testimonies, and not to selfish gain!
Selfishness is what separates you from God. This is why Jesus said the first step to coming after Him is to deny self.
Psalm 119:46, 47 – I will also speak of your testimonies before kings and shall not be put to shame, for I find my delight in your commandments, which I love.
Testifying about Jesus is not hard at all for someone who truly loves Him and knows His word.
Psalm 119:51 – The insolent utterly deride me, but I do not turn away from your law.
Throughout all of history, God’s people have had to endure ridicule from the ungodly. This is inevitable. Rejoice if you find yourself in the company of the many faithful who have suffered before you as you carry on the torch of the Good News.
Psalm 119:72 – The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver pieces.
Something will have priority in your life, God or something else. Most people who claim to be Christian are actually influenced day-to-day by a higher priority than Jesus, usually something connected to self-reliance, self-preservation or self-fulfillment. Following Jesus will always be a leap of faith and love, requiring you to give up your life that you may have real life in Him.
Psalm 119:90 – Your faithfulness endures to all generations; you have established the earth, and it stands fast.
Opinions about God change from generation to generation, but God doesn’t change. Your personal opinion matters little unless your opinion is God’s unchanging truth revealed through His word and the Holy Spirit.
Psalm 119:99, 100 – I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts.
The learned scholars are but blind guides as are the theologians with seminary degrees who do not live out the words of Jesus and glorify Him alone in absolute humility. The greatest spiritual leader in your community may be the man on the street corner who no one notices. Man-made positions and recognitions are not God’s measure of success. Find and surround yourself with the true followers of Jesus.
Psalm 119:105-106 – Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.
Listen to this short message on Psalm 119:105-106 by Pastor Chuck Smith — https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGPc-RlUp8U
Psalm 119:129 – Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them.
Ultimately, obedience only comes from love. If you are trying to obey from a position of fear, self-righteousness or duty, you will still fall short because anything other than love is self-centered.
Psalm 119:136 – My eyes shed streams of tears, because people do not keep your law.
When was the last time you were consumed in sorrow by the sins of others?
Psalm 119:147, 148 – I rise before dawn and cry for help; I hope in your words. My eyes are awake before the watches of the night, that I may meditate on your promise.
Do you begin and end each day with dedicated time with the Lord?
Psalm 119:160 – The sum of your word is truth, every one of your righteous rules endures forever.
To know God’s whole truth, you must know His whole word; you must study the Bible in total, not just bits and pieces of it.
Psalm 119:175, 176 – Let my soul live and praise you, and let your rules help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.
We were created to love, obey, worship, and praise God. However, we were also created to be totally dependent upon Him, powerless, and defenseless in our own strength like sheep. We must follow the voice of the Shepherd and remain in His protection. We must follow the Shepherd not trusting in our sheepish knowledge. Sheep like to wander off to their own peril. We must understand that we are just like sheep. Stay as close as you can to the Shepherd.
Psalm 120:1 – In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me.
God will not refuse those who genuinely cry out to Him.
Proverbs 16:1 — The plans of the heart belong to man, but the answer of the tongue is from the Lord…. The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.
What matters is not what you want to do but rather what God wants you to do. You can plan to do your own thing, but you might find yourself working against God, despite how good you think your intentions are. From beginning the end, the message in Proverbs 16 is very clear: “The Lord works out everything for his own ends.” The LORD is KING, the LORD is Sovereign, the LORD is in complete control, and the LORD has a plan. When our plan is aligned, in synch, in accordance with and subordinated to His plan, life is good. We are on the “highway of the upright” (Proverbs 16:17). However when we get off course, when we go our own way, life is painful. The problem is that our hearts are deceptive, and, guided by our own pride, ignorance, and emotion, we will always choose the wrong path (Proverbs 16:2, 9, 25). Unfortunately, when we choose the wrong path, we also lead others astray too (Proverbs 16:29). Therefore we must “fear the Lord…. Commit to the Lord whatever [we] do…. Give heed to instruction…. [and] Trust in the Lord… (Proverbs 16:6, 7, 2, 20).” Ultimately, our desire to faithfully submit in obedience to the LORD should be motivated purely by selfless love rather than a self-centered desire for the blessings of God. However, today’s Proverbs and Psalms do remind us that obedience to the Lord leads to fullness of life on earth (Proverbs 16:31; Psalm 20:7; 21:7). Yet to be perfected in love, we all have mixed motives behind our “love and faithfulness” to God and to others – it is partly selfless, and partly selfish. God calls us to approach Him in obedience while He continues to work on our hearts.
Proverbs 16:2 – All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the Lord weighs the spirit.
God’s word is used by the Holy Spirit to show us the truth of ourselves and our sinfulness that we won’t admit to ourselves. What matters is not what you think about yourself but what God thinks of you. It is very tempting for us to tell ourselves that our plan is also God’s plan for us in order to validate inwardly self-centered motives. Pray that the Holy Spirit will reveal to you where your motives are not really God-centered. Be careful that when you say, “God has put on my heart to [do x or y],” He really has said it and you are not just convincing yourself you heard what you wanted to hear from God when you really didn’t.
“How quick we are to question the motives of others, yet we are so slow to question our own! When others harm us, we may assume the worst of intentions. When we are guilty, we often excuse our offenses, concluding that others are far too sensitive! Regardless of how we monitor our motives, God weighs them in His scales of righteousness. It is futile to try to deceive God with our pious justifications, for He sees our hearts.
Is it possible to do the right thing for the wrong reason? Of course! You can attend worship services with a heart that is far from worshipful (Isa. 1:10-17). Could you show concern for the poor and yet have a heart that is opposed to God? Judas did (John 12:4-8). Could you make bold statements of love for Christ and actually be aiding the work of Satan? Peter did (Matt. 16:21-23). Could you offer sacrifices to God and be in total disobedience to Him? King Saul did (1 Sam. 13:8-9). Could you pray with the wrong motives? James said you can (James 4:3).
Many things cause us to do what we do. We can be motivated by good things, such as love for God, compassion, generosity, and faith. Or our actions can come from unhealthy motives such as pride, insecurity, ambition, lust, greed, guilt, anger, fear, and hurt. It is even possible to do the best things based on the worst motives. When the Lord measures our motives He looks for one thing: love. All that we do should proceed from our love for God and for others (1 Cor. 13). Take time to look past your actions to what lies behind them. Ask God to show you what He sees when He examines your motives.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Proverbs 16:4 – The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble.
God has a plan for everything. No matter what you choose to do, God will be glorified by your life and His truth will be revealed in your life. Depending on how you respond to His instruction, He will either use you to reveal His truth in a positive way or a negative way. Either way, God is glorified. Better to reveal to others the blessings of God by abiding in Him and His word rather than the curses of God through the consequences of sin. God says, “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore, choose life, that you and your offspring may live….” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
Proverbs 16:6 – By steadfast love and faithfulness iniquity is atoned for, and by the fear of the Lord one turns away from evil.
Faithful obedience is the true measure of repentance and love. Sacrificial deeds done with the wrong motives don’t mean anything or fix anything. Love and faithfulness is what matters. Sacrifices don’t make up for disobedience or a lack of genuine love. God doesn’t want your sacrifices, He wants your love and faithfulness. The better our perspective of God, the easier it is to turn away from evil. The proof of your repentance is no longer desiring in your heart to continue in sin and by your changed behavior.
Proverbs 16:7, 9 – When a man’s ways please the Lord, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him…. The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.
God is fully aware of how others are treating you, and He allows to happen what He wants to happen to you for His glory and your ultimate benefit. Have you ever considered that God has put unloving people in your path so that you can learn to love them the way He loves and so you can learn to trust Him with all things? God can control people in ways you can’t. Remain faithful in difficult times and in difficult relationships, and watch God work, but don’t be surprised if He works more on you than anything else. Remember, His ultimate goal for you is to become Christlike, and that requires you to carry your cross daily.
Proverbs 16:8 – Better is a little with righteousness than great revenues with injustice.
The righteous may be poor, and the unrighteous may be rich on earth, but riches are not the same as reward. All that people think money can offer them — security, joy, peace, validation, etc. — are really in the hands of God and come through relationship with Jesus Christ. When you have Jesus, nothing else really matters all that much. When you don’t have Jesus, all the wealth in the world can’t fill the void in your life.
Proverbs 16:17 – “The highway of the upright turns aside from evil.” Your journey to spiritual maturity is fast when you choose to take the path far from evil. Said another way, those on the fast-track in life aren’t delayed by evil because they avoid it. Sin always drags you down and keeps you from getting to where you need to go. “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” (Hebrews 12:1)
Proverbs 16:20 – Whoever gives thought to the word will discover good, and blessed is he who trusts in the Lord.
Read, study, and meditate upon God’s word; then, trust and obey, day-by-day.
Proverbs 16:25 – There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.
Take it to the bank: man’s way is the wrong way. If you are following anything or anybody other than Jesus Christ and His commandments, you are heading the wrong direction. God says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isa 55:8, 9) God commands you, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5) Solomon, the wisest king that ever lived, couldn’t get it right. What makes anyone else think they can apart from the lead of Jesus. Follow Jesus and only Jesus. Jesus didn’t say, “I will show you the way;” He said, “I am The Way.” His way is one of obedience. Jesus obeyed every word of the Father. Deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow Jesus. You have been provided with God’s Word and the power of the Holy Spirit. You have been given all authority by Jesus to be His Ambassador on this earth. What more do you need? Stop chasing the world’s sinful fantasies.
“Things are not always what they seem. Proverbs warns that we can be deceived into believing we are going down the right path and yet be heading toward death, the opposite direction from God’s will. People do not naturally seek God or pursue righteousness (Rom. 3:10-18). Only as the Spirit awakens our hearts to the Person of Christ are we able to desire God’s will. If we make decisions apart from the guidance of the Spirit of God, we will be like a ship trying to sail without a compass. We will do what makes the most sense, based on our own wisdom. But what looks attractive may actually lead to sin, ultimately destroying what is precious to us, for our most profound human thinking is mere foolishness to God (1 Cor. 1:18-20). Only God knows the way that leads to life, and He wants to lead us to walk in it (Matt. 7:13-14).
Don’t assume every opportunity that arises is from God. Satan will disguise himself as an “angel of light,” and his invitations will seem to be in your best interest (2 Cor. 11:14). Yet his way leads only to death (John 8:44). The word of God will be like a light to your path, guiding you in the ways of righteousness (Ps. 119:105).
It can be perilous to follow a path that seems right without first consulting the Holy Spirit for guidance (John 16:13). Take time to seek the Holy Spirit’s direction when you face decisions. He knows the full ramifications of your choices. The Holy Spirit will assist you to understand truth and to experience abundant life. Trust Him as He leads you.” (Henry T. Blackaby)
Proverbs 16:32 – Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.
The key to real strength is self-control. A person with self-control is a powerful person. If you cannot control your temper, you cannot control anything else for very long. You are unfit for God’s work and need to pray that God will grant you the last fruit of the Spirit – self-control (see Gal 5).
Proverbs 16:33 — The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.
Nothing is left to chance.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 16 October 2022: Pray that God will increases your passion for His word and your understanding of His word through the Spirit. Pray that God will give you the wisdom to rightly apply His word and the love for Him to obey Him without grumbling. (1 Corinthians 10:10; 1 Peter 4:9) Read Psalm 119 carefully, meditate upon it, and apply it to your daily walk.